2007/10/27

Hacking BBC Radio Player Window

I came into BBC Radio 1's Official Chart Show page and the Firefox web browser crashed when I clicked the link intended to listen to an archive of the previous show.

Next I tried with Internet Explorer; now a pop up window titled BBC Radio Player opened but the browser status bar indicated some "unknown" error loading the page which prevented the stream to load.

Following some advices in this page, I clicked the option to view the source of this last window and performed a search for "<noscript>" where in the next line I found this: "<embed src="/radio/aod/shows/rpms/radio1/top40.rpm". So, I completed the URL and downloaded the file top40.rpm file from http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/shows/rpms/radio1/top40.rpm.

I could have opened this file in Real Player right away but I learnt that if I want to bookmark the actual source of the stream in Real Player's bookmarks without having to keep this .rpm file untouched in a fixed location, the right way to proceed is to open the .rpm file with a text editor like Notepad, copy the link within, paste the link in Real Player's Open dialog box and finally bookmark this direct source link if you want. This way the .rpm file is no longer needed to load the source stream.

But wait, the real tip is ahead!

During the process of these tweaks, I opened and closed Real Player several times; that's when the program displayed a pop up dialog asking me if I wanted to reset Real Player as default player for some media types. I approved the suggestion not expecting any surprises from it... until later, when I opened the BBC Radio Player window again in Internet Explorer and unexpectedly, it loaded with no errors and the stream started playing right away! Even better, if you listen for say a couple of minutes and then close the window, the next time you open the window a dialog will pop up asking you if you want to resume the playback from where you left or from the beginning! So now I know what the "unknown" cause of the page error was, a loose configuration of Real Player media types setup.

Anyway, is good to have learnt how to bookmark the source source directly to be able to bypass BBC's player window. Another advantage of playing it with Real Player is that you can position the player cursor anywhere you like in the timeline and start playing from there; that's much better than the two buttons the BBC Radio Player window offers to skeep some preset minutes.